Fishing Update 7/10/21

This is my 1st day off the water in 12 days, and it feels kind of like I am missing something today. But, taking it to an entirely different level, my friend Timmy is at well over 460 days in a row of not missing a single day of fishing. I am in awe of this, and respect how he brings it home to share. So Timmy, if you’re reading this weeks report, my hat is off to you for your dedication.

Speaking of hats off, many thanks to all the people thinking of the fish and staying off some of the waters that have warmed up during the heat wave. This includes some of my guides who are watching it carefully and taking it seriously. Many folks I’ve talked to are going early morning, and leaving by early afternoon to stay in the safe zone for water temperatures and trout. Voluntary “Hoot Owl’s“, you are the smart ones that are taking care of our resources.

hoot owl
Give a Hoot!

The Metolius

The Metolius is fishing mostly very well, but we can certainly expect some slow times during a hot July. The trends are good with hatches coming a little later in the day, mostly about 3 or 4 and going to dusk. During that time you’ll see PMD’s, Blue Wing Olives and Caddis. Golden Stones, so far just in the very upper stretches.

Spinners near dark or perhaps early in the morning too. Spinners should be #16 and #18 Rusty, and a #20 Olive spent wing. Rene Harrops Biot Body Parachutes are my go to, and my own “Jeff’s Sunset Spinner” are good flies to either start or end the day with on the Metolius.

Clarks Stones and Norm Woods are the flies getting the best looks up river for the Golden Hatch. These will be good until October sometime, and by then the hatch spreads its way around the middle and lower river too, with September usually offering the best hatches of EVERYTHING, including larger stones.

Our crew of shop guys including Brad, Tonn and Adam found some nice Bull Trout in the River this week! It seems as the big lake run fish came up early, so now is a time to get your 8 weight and some big streamers going.

I fished the Metolius 5 days in a row around the 4th of July. It was on and off. 2 of the 5 sessions had way more action, and 3 of them were slow. Between the heat, the occasional July Doldrums & the changes on hatch times it is a game of patience, and understanding that not every day will be as rewarding as some of the other days. But don’t forget the reward doesn’t just come with numbers of fish to the net, but to being on the river and sometimes the reward of one wild Metolius redside is good enough. It is for me. (PS- I just hate being skunked) (PSS- and that happens occasionally too) (PSSS- Damn)

The Crooked

The Crooked is running well from Bowman Dam, and I say that because by time the River gets down to the Smith Rocks area, and has diversions of water for Facebook and Apple servers in Prineville, and irrigated crops in the Prineville and Lone Pine areas, the water is almost gone. It is sad to see, especially as there was a huge effort to reintroduce Chinook Salmon and Steelhead above Lake Billy Chinook. What is left is unsurvivable for a salmonid.

But, we are lucky in a way to have that tailwater below Bowman holding up for the time, and to see the trout doing well in the cold flows it provides for several miles below the dam. Our guide team reports good afternoon PMD hatches and dry fly action to go with the hatch. Before the hatch good nymphing on small mayfly nymphs. Red Copper Johns have been another great fly this week for us. Caddis in the evening are hatching well, with pupa and emerger patterns working great from about 7 PM to dark.

Fall River

Fall River is getting better on the dry fly action during the heat. Not sure why? But we will take it. Remember from earlier reports I was down on the fish ODFW stocked because they are not good dry fly eaters usually. Our guides reported good caddis and PMD hatches throughout the days this week, and some rusty spinners, PMD and BWO hatches in the evening. One of my favorite Fall River memories comes from way back in the 80’s with a Swiss friend named Hans, an Olive Comparadun, some 6x tippet and a broken off fish. We got the fly back the next night. Summer BWO hatches are often overlooked but can provide a lot of good fishing at the right place and right time. A lesson learned long ago.

Right now, in the heat especially, Ants and Hoppers are working well too. Nymphing and streamer action is always an important at the Fall River. Besides the Euro Nymphing action, there are some really good opportunities for fish pounding a small streamer!

The McKenzie

We had an incredibly good week floating and fishing the McKenzie. Some dry fly fishing on chubbies, caddis, Light Cahill’s and Parachute Adams, but nymphing caddis and heavy mayfly nymphs was our best action.

Cascade Lakes

Troy reported he had good early day fishing on both Hosmer and East lake this week. Leaving the water about lunch time to get ahead of the warm afternoon conditions. My buddy Cort also reported the same from Hosmer and good fishing on nymphs. Damsels are strong on both Hosmer and East. Callibaetis at East.

East lake I’d go dawn to noon, and 8 to dark. otherwise, leave it be to protect the fish if you practice C&R. At Hosmer fish deep in the channel and play fish quickly. Stay off the lower lake if the water temps go 68 or higher. They will most of the week now.

This week I guided Three Creeks Lake and Paulina, all with good success.

Our guide Eric guided Three Creeks this morning. So let’s start there, and say be careful of water temps. You can see the water get to 70-71 at the surface in the afternoon. Fish early or late to avoid that danger to the trout. On tuesday my clients landed a lot of fish from 2 PM to Dark. Water temps stayed nice with a good breeze blowing (more on that in a moment). A Red Hippie Stomper with a Callibaetis nymph is a killer combo. A customer Eric was catching fish after fish on a callibaetis nymph with a slow strip out of his pontoon boat. A treat to watch fish after fish come to the net he just bought at the FFP earlier that day. To say he put on a clinic is an understatement.

Tons of Callibaetis Spinners in the late afternoon. We actually found the emergence of new duns quietly happening as the spinners hovered furiously over the water in the thousands! In the late evening as the sun goes over the ridge the black Caddis become the important hatch. Besides Black adult caddis and emergers (X Caddis) the soft hackles (purple is my favorite but orange is good too) stripped slowly is good. This morning Eric found the Red Stomper to be the fly of the day too and had very good fishing. Our guide Ben turned me on to that a few summers ago, and it works.

Hard on a hot saturday summer day to avoid the floaty, splash & giggle crowds. Go early morning, or late afternoons, or go on a weekday to get away from that. Today there was no choice, Eric had 2 guys who’s wives were enjoying the Quilt Show in Sisters today so the dudes went to fish and loved it regardless of skinny dippers. 🙂

The last three days I had guide trips at Paulina. Wednesday was so darn good! Thursday was good and Friday was OK, but a lack of wind (which we had in abundance the other 2 days) got the surface water up to 71 in the afternoon.

Besides a Hummingbird Fish Finder on my boat, I use a portable handheld Fish Hawk water thermometer that takes and stores water temps every 5 feet. When water temps were 70 at the surface, down 10 feet it was mid 60’s, down 20 feet it was mid 50’s! When the wind blows, that stirs up the water and allows that cooler water reserve to mix at the top. When the wind stays calm the surface area acts like a giant mirror and a solar collector. It is bummer, but it can be overcome by going early or coming back to the lake later in the evening. Also, choosing to fish deeper water in the following ways (1) Deep indicator fishing with 20-25 leaders. (2) Type 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 full sink lines are productive and will easily get your fly to that 10 to 20 foot level, and deeper if you need them to. Have you tried the deep dangle on a type 7 or 8 line with a couple of chironomids? That is cool. Somedays it works better than the indicator rig, but be prepared for both. Yesterday we hooked some nice fish on type 5 and type 8 full sink lines stripping streamers and damsel nymphs off the ledges and weed beds.

This week we caught fish on Beetles, Ants, Hoppers, Purple Chubby’s, Damsel nymphs, Sheila Sculpin, Callibaetis Nymph, Red 2 Bit’s and Pheasant Tails.

Crane Prairie

Crane Prairie is showing signs of life in the channels. I haven’t been, but heard from my friend Tim (Echo owner) that water temps were high at the surface but safe at the channels down 7 to 10 feet.

Balanced Leeches, Chironomids, 2 Bits and Damsel Nymphs are all good. Pop your tippet up to 3x and play the fish hard and fast to the net if you’re headed that way. Quinn and Cultus are the top picks, and maybe wait to later in the week and watch the water because it looks like we are going to drop about 12 degrees from Sundays high to Thursdays high.

I get my weather reports for the lakes from studying Windy dot com and National Wx and NOAA Weather app’s. If you haven’t used those sites, they are a pretty good start to knowing more about the area you’ll be, and could even make a difference between a safe trip or an uncomfortable one. I have East Lake, Crane, Hosmer, Sisters, Camp Sherman all saved for help in planning a good day on the water.

I am sure over this heat, as I am sure a lot of you are too. I dream of a day with 70 degree temps and cloudy skies and even a few days of rain sounds good at the moment. Oregon and the rest of the west need it.

If you say your prayers, or if you do a rain dance to another spirit, or you just hope for it in the universe, we need all hands on deck for some relief to the drought and for our fish, our farms, the cities we live in and the gardens we grow.

I used to think of summer as my time to shine. It was my favorite time of the year. Carefree, busy, comfortable and fun. Now it is scary in a way. Scary that everything I care for is at the mercy of this heat. It gives me pause and some anxious feelings. We are making our way, but I just don’t want to see anything burning up, or see fish lost to not enough water, or worse when people are losing their lives because they are unable to be in a safe place. We are all in together and I know many people will view it from different perspectives, but I hope we can all recognize climate change and work to keep our own places safe and comfortable environments to live in. The west is too special to lose.

The Sisters Quilt Show happened again today. After missing last years show to the pandemic, it was fun to be here at the shop with a couple of quilts hung on my front porch, swaying gently in the breeze. It was fun to see the excitement and vibrancy return to our community and I want that energy to hit for the rest of the season and just be nothing but good.

Keep finding cool waters! Be well and see you soon.


One thought on “Fishing Update 7/10/21

  1. I read your helpful reports regularly, huge THANKS for writing them.

    And thanks especially for addressing climate change in this most recent post. Like you, I am deeply concerned that climate change will ruin fishing (among other things) near my home town of Sisters, and all over Oregon and beyond. I tried to fish Crane Prairie Reservoir and the Deschutes below it a few days ago, and just feeling the water I knew it was too hot to fish for trout without risking killing them. Your guidance helped me find cooler waters to fish, but there’s no cooler planet nearby we can go to. To me this is not a political issue. The data don’t care which party we belong to. The planet is clearly changing for the worse, and we need to be part of the solution no matter how we feel about one party or another.

    Also, I’m sorry about the loss of your previous dog, and congratulations on getting a new canine companion.

    Please keep up the great work and I hope to meet you in person someday.
    –Scott Crabtree

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